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Aharon Davidi, retired Israeli general, dies at 84

Aharon Davidi, one of Israel’s first paratroopers and a contemporary of Israeli founding fathers such as Moshe Dayan and Ariel Sharon, died Feb. 11 at 84.

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Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak described Davidi, a retired brigadier general, as "a leading combat officer, one of the molders of the IDF’s fighting force, who made an outstanding contribution to the shaping of IDF combat norms, with an emphasis on leadership under fire in the face of the enemy."

Davidi was born in Tel Aviv in 1927 and served in the pre-State Hagana and Palmach. In Israel’s War of Independence he fought in the Negev. In Israel’s early years, he joined the paratroopers as an officer in fabled Unit 101, commanded by Sharon. Haaretz said Davidi “distinguished himself as a military leader” who was “bold, prudent, modest” and respected by colleagues. He was credited with playing a key role in the battle of Mitla Pass in the 1956 war in the Sinai and 11 years later. in the Six Day War, in the capture of Sharm El-Sheikh.

A different Haaretz writer noted that Davidi’s death “went by quietly, and the man who was admired by generations of combat soldiers for his humble and impressive personality seemed to be forgotten” in the media storm when Whitney Houston died.

In the 1982 First Lebanon War, Davidi founded an organization which brought non-Israeli volunteers to the country to help with agricultural harvests in the Golan that became Sar-El, the national project for volunteers for Israel. Sar-El, still in operation, has brought thousands of volunteers in the intervening 30 years.

In an unfortunate coincidence, Vade Bolton, chairman of Sar-El’s American affiliate, Volunteers for Israel, died in December 2011.

Davidi was associated with right-wing politics in his later years. In 2010, he won the Moskowitz Prize for Zionism.

The Eulogizer highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org.

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